It’s already been four months since Congress voted to extend the previous Farm Bill by one year—but your lawmakers on Capitol Hill still haven’t come up with a new Farm Bill. That’s why one ag leader who is serving in Washington, D.C. is pushing members of Congress to get it done sooner than later.
“I think there is still a chance to get the Farm Bill done. I tend to be a bit more on the optimistic side. Life is pretty miserable if you’re always negative,” says Ted McKinney, who serves as CEO of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA).
He says his concern is that lawmakers are losing valuable floor time in Congress to iron out a new Farm Bill.
“Our view is that we need to get this done by March and April,” says McKinney. “We know that the leadership of both the House and Senate Ag Committees wants to do that, but it’s floor time that’s becoming the pinch point now.”
McKinney says that NASDA is pushing lawmakers to increase federal funding in the next Farm Bill for ag research at land-grant universities like Michigan State.
“It’s important. People say that, but gosh, the last few Farm Bills, it’s been sixth out of five in priorities, 11 out of 10, and man, are we falling behind on the international stage in terms of our support for ag research? We can’t always leave that to the corporations.”
He also wants to make sure that any new regulations in the next Farm Bill are helpful for Michigan’s farmers and ag businesses, not hurtful.
“Of course, we’re going to be very involved because we are co-regulators in our states. Most people think that EPA, FDA, and USDA are the regulators, and they are, but most people don’t know that a lot – I dare say most – of the regulations that are instituted by Congress and then shaped by those agencies, it’s all handed off the State Departments of Ag. So, we take a great deal of interest in shaping those properly because we say with pride that we’re the closest to that farmer, that rancher, that processor, so you bet we’re going to be involved in any number of areas,” he says.
In addition to a new Farm Bill, McKinney says another aspect that needs improvement is ag trade.
“We’re lifting up international trade, and, for sure, the current administration is paying some attention to that. But the complete walk away from what I’ve always known as a free trade agreement and the focus on market access, which is largely bringing tariffs down, has just been vacated. There’s no attention at all being paid to that, so we’re lifting up trade policy.”
The existing Farm Bill is now set to expire on Sept. 30, 2024.
Click below to hear NASDA CEO Ted McKinney discuss why Congress should no longer delay work on a new Farm Bill.